Fierce ri­vals

Bray People - - SPORT -

arms of Thomas Kelly, who had snuck in be­hind, and he made no mis­take with a low fin­ish to Peter Dig­nam’s left from 10 yards.

Rath­new lev­elled through an­other Doyle free but af­ter wait­ing an­other 14 min­utes for a score Pat’s fin­ished the half strongly and brought a two-point lead into the dress­ing rooms as Jor­dan Pet­ti­grew and Kelly (2) added points.

Two of these scores came di­rectly from Jem Ka­vanagh burst­ing out in front of his man and win­ning the ball at full back and the last score was a thing of beauty as Kelly man­aged to land a score from thirty yards and a fair an­gle hav­ing been com­pletely off bal­ance and un­der se­vere pres­sure from Damien Power.

Sens­ing they had the mo­men­tum it was Pat’s who came out fly­ing at the start of the sec­ond half.

A swift move and ball over the top found Jor­dan Pet­ti­grew com­pletely un­marked about 12 yards from goal. The net seemed cer­tain to bulge but his high pile-driver whisked past the post and wide as Rath­new could af­ford to breathe again.

Rath­new re­sponded well as a long-range Ed­die Doyle free and a trade­mark Staff punch from a high ball in brought the sides level for the third time with just un­der 20 min­utes to play.

Paudge McWal­ter was bril­liant all evening and took on his man at ev­ery op­por­tu­nity and it was from one of these runs in off the left side that he kicked the lead point be­fore Pat’s bagged their cru­cial sec­ond goal on 45 min­utes.

A turnover at mid­field saw the ball played over the top to Thomas Kelly on the Rath­new 45. The Pat’s full for­ward had one Rath­new man di­rectly be­tween him and the goal with mid­fielder Healy steam­ing up from be­hind.

Kelly seemed to jog up and tease the de­fender into mov­ing be­fore he de­liv­ered a per­fectly timed pass to Healy who stormed in and fin­ished low into the bot­tom right cor­ner to put day­light be­tween the sides.

Rath­new fought on valiantly and Mer­nagh and Doyle brought it back to a one score game but it was to be Pat’s day as the im­pres­sive Johnny De­lahunt and John Crowe put the ic­ing on the cake and sealed a de­served five- point vic­tory.

The re­sult means that Pat’s are in pole po­si­tion for an au­to­matic quar­ter-fi­nal place as they sit on three points with Coolkenno to come while Rath­new now face a crunch match with Balt­in­glass in their fi­nal game to get into the top two places.

Scor­ers - St Pats: Tommy Kelly 1-3 (0-1 free), Dean Healy 1-0, John Crowe, 0-1, Jor­dan Pet­ti­grew 0-1, Paudge McWal­ter 0-1, Johnny De­lahunt 0-1.

Rath­new: Ed­die Doyle 0-5 (0-4 frees), Nicky Mer­nagh 0-2, James Stafford 0-1.


WHAT a dif­fer­ence ten months can make. Septem­ber 2016, Bray Em­mets have de­throned the three in a row kings in a county quar­ter-fi­nal and are tipped by many to make the se­nior fi­nal.

Bless­ing­ton beaten by a bet­ter St. Pat’s team in the semi-fi­nal thanks to two early sec­ond half goals when the game was on a knife edge.

July 2017, Bless­ing­ton lose out nar­rowly in a tough bat­tle with Kil­te­gan in the open­ing fix­ture of the Se­nior Cham­pi­onship while Bray lose in a sur­prise re­sult to Ti­na­hely.

Game 2 pits the two big guns to­gether. Surely, this will be a bat­tle of the year. Two wounded slug­gers look­ing for ret­ri­bu­tion. The weather is per­fect, the at­ten­dance is shock­ing.

Bless­ing­ton burst out of the traps early in this game. In the first ten min­utes, they reg­is­ter six points and had a goal-bound ef­fort saved by Paul O’Keefe.

The west­ern­ers fielded a mid­field pair­ing that dove­tailed im­mensely and with An­thony McLough­lin an aerial threat, they thwarted a lot of Bray kick outs leav­ing the Bray side strug­gling to gain any pos­ses­sion and pin them into their own half.

Gavin Dowl­ing reg­is­tered the first score for the north­ern­ers with their first shot on eleven min­utes and this was fol­lowed up by two more from Niall McGraynor and Eoin McCor­mack with the lat­ter a lovely score in­volv­ing Marc Len­non and Niall McGraynor.

Bless­ing­ton struck their first ma­jor of the night on twenty three min­utes with the im­pres­sive Cur­tis Ger­aghty link­ing with An­thony McLough­lin to square to Michael Nu­gent to palm home.

How­ever, Bray re­sponded al­most im­me­di­ately af­ter a pur­ple patch in the sec­ond quar­ter.

From a Bless­ing­ton kick out the ball was bro­ken into the cen­tre of the pitch and great work through the hands al­lows Diar­muid Master­son to fire home through Stephen Kitt’s legs.

With twenty six min­utes on the clock, we had a kick of the ball in the dif­fer­ence at 1-8 to 1-5 to Bless­ing­ton. Eoin Keogh took off on one of his trade­mark runs through the mid­dle with no Bray player get­ting a hand on him or meet­ing him he fired a shot that was blocked su­perbly by Philip Haughton but O’Keefe had moved in the Bray goal to try stop it also but got caught flat-footed.

The ball ric­o­cheted into Keogh’s hands mirac­u­lously and he tapped the ball home to open a six point gap. From the re­sult­ing kick out, Bless­ing­ton earned them­selves a free that was dis­patched by An­thony McLough­lin leav­ing the half time score at 2-9 to 1-5.

Buoyed by their late goal, Bless­ing­ton burst out of the traps in the sec­ond half.

Again, they pinned Bray into their own half and had ex­cel­lent over lap­ping runs from Keogh, Stephen Bo­han and Kevin Han­lon adding in­jec­tion to their at­tacks.

Keogh seemed to be ev­ery­where in this game and played one of his bet­ter games for his beloved club in the Aughrim sun. An­thony McLough­lin too was hav­ing an ex­cel­lent game for his club and he found a ma­jor next to his name in the 13th minute of the half with strong sup­port­ing run to­wards the goal and a neat 1-2 with Nu­gent al­lowed the county foot­baller the time to palm the ball into the net.

The next goal came mo­ments later, ref­eree Robert Whe­lan was not happy with the Bray kick out and awarded a throw ball on the 21.

Bray’s play­ers were slow to re­act to the dan­ger when McLough­lin fielded the ball and fed an on rush­ing Pa­trick O’Con­nor who slot­ted home with ease.

The Bless­ing­ton tails were up at this stage and added some more points with the pick of them com­ing from Barry Fi­nan that came from a sweep­ing move af­ter an in­ter­cep­tion in their full back line. Jor­dan Nolan added the fifth goal in the same fash­ion as two of their ear­lier goals with a 1-2 in­volv­ing Ed­die Boy­lan al­low­ing Nolan a palm in from a yard.

Cur­tis Ger­aghty won the re­sult­ing kick out and fed Boy­lan who him­self played a 1-2 with Nolan and tapped home.

Bless­ing­ton took the two valu­able points and played well in fair­ness to the team with subs mak­ing valu­able in­puts with their in­tro­duc­tion.

The main neg­a­tive as­pect this re­porter has with this fix­ture was the crowd. Ten min­utes into the game dur­ing a break there were ap­prox­i­mately 85 in at­ten­dance. Yes, Bray have lost play­ers to emigration and J1’s etc but surely the size of that town can have a play­ing pool with play­ers of the same stan­dard to fill the void.

Hurl­ing is thriv­ing in Bray with many dual play­ers. I am some­times amazed at why there is only two clubs in such a mas­sive town. I ad­mire the ef­fort that the team are putting in but they are not be­ing re­warded with the sup­port of their lo­cals and I also in­clude Bless­ing­ton in this for a large pop­u­la­tion and such a small crowd. Is the pric­ing of games the is­sue? Would Wick­low be bet­ter served charg­ing a week­end / monthly cham­pi­onship ticket? Is the dis­tance the is­sue? Play­ers want to play in the county grounds in Joule Park. It is the best in the county. Clubs in Mayo/Kerry for ex­am­ple have no is­sue trav­el­ling hours to games. Un­til, these two great clubs are be­ing fully sup­ported, the GAA in Wick­low is in grave trou­ble.

Bray’s Niall McGraynor tries to shake off Bless­ing­ton’s Stephen Bo­han.

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